exonerate

verb
ex·​on·​er·​ate | \ ig-ˈzä-nə-ˌrāt How to pronounce exonerate (audio) , eg-\
exonerated; exonerating

Definition of exonerate

transitive verb

1 : to relieve of a responsibility, obligation, or hardship
2 : to clear from accusation or blame

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Other Words from exonerate

exoneration \ ig-​ˌzä-​nə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce exoneration (audio) , eg-​ \ noun
exonerative \ ig-​ˈzä-​nə-​ˌrā-​tiv How to pronounce exonerative (audio) , eg-​ \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for exonerate

Synonyms

absolve, acquit, clear, exculpate, vindicate

Antonyms

criminate, incriminate

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Choose the Right Synonym for exonerate

exculpate, absolve, exonerate, acquit, vindicate mean to free from a charge. exculpate implies a clearing from blame or fault often in a matter of small importance. exculpating himself from the charge of overenthusiasm absolve implies a release either from an obligation that binds the conscience or from the consequences of disobeying the law or committing a sin. cannot be absolved of blame exonerate implies a complete clearance from an accusation or charge and from any attendant suspicion of blame or guilt. exonerated by the investigation acquit implies a formal decision in one's favor with respect to a definite charge. voted to acquit the defendant vindicate may refer to things as well as persons that have been subjected to critical attack or imputation of guilt, weakness, or folly, and implies a clearing effected by proving the unfairness of such criticism or blame. her judgment was vindicated

Where does exonerate come from?

We won't blame you if you don't know the origins of today's word. Exonerate derives via Middle English from the past participle of the Latin verb exonerare, meaning "to unburden," formed by combining the prefix ex- with onus, meaning "load" or "burden" (onus itself lives on with that meaning in English). In its earliest uses, dating from the 16th century, exonerate was used in the context of physical burdens—a ship, for example, could be exonerated of its cargo when it was unloaded. Later it was used in reference to any kind of burden, until a more specific sense developed, meaning "to relieve (someone) of blame."

Examples of exonerate in a Sentence

the results of the DNA fingerprinting finally exonerated the man, but only after he had wasted 10 years of his life in prison

Recent Examples on the Web

Spacey’s attorney, Alan Jackson, has argued that there could be evidence on the phone that could exonerate the actor, but since the phone is missing, the defense team is unable to know. Nardine Saad, latimes.com, "Here’s what’s going on in Kevin Spacey’s legal saga," 8 July 2019 His lawyers have said evidence that could exonerate Spacey was deleted from the phone. Dakin Andone, CNN, "The man who accuses Kevin Spacey of groping him dropped his civil lawsuit against the actor," 5 July 2019 Hoffman agreed to represent him, spent seven years working pro bono on his case, and got him exonerated. Jennifer Gonnerman, The New Yorker, "Tiffany Cabán Upends Politics As Usual in Queens," 26 June 2019 But in her desperation to exonerate Perry, Mary Louise’s real motives are hard to decipher. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Big Little Lies season 2, episode 3 recap: Hail Renata, the Medusa of Monterey," 24 June 2019 The exonerated Central Park Five receive a standing ovation The Exonerated Five, formerly known as the Central Park Five, were also in attendance. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "The top 7 moments from the BET Awards," 24 June 2019 Although scores of people have been cleared of false confessions since DNA evidence entered U.S. courtrooms, the Burton case was the first time someone had been exonerated on the basis of the scientific analysis of interrogation. Douglas Starr, Science | AAAS, "This psychologist explains why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit," 13 June 2019 Gooding’s lawyer, Mark Heller, said security video will exonerate the actor. Washington Post, "The Latest: Cuba Gooding Jr. pleads not guilty to sex abuse," 13 June 2019 In 2002, they were exonerated and released from prison. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Donald Trump, opera star? Maybe so, in Anthony Davis’ ‘Central Park Five’," 9 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exonerate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of exonerate

1524, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for exonerate

Middle English, from Latin exoneratus, past participle of exonerare to unburden, from ex- + oner-, onus load

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Statistics for exonerate

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exonerate

The first known use of exonerate was in 1524

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More Definitions for exonerate

exonerate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of exonerate

formal : to prove that someone is not guilty of a crime or responsible for a problem, bad situation, etc.

exonerate

transitive verb
ex·​on·​er·​ate | \ ig-ˈzä-nə-ˌrāt, eg- How to pronounce exonerate (audio) \
exonerated; exonerating

Legal Definition of exonerate

1 : to relieve especially of a charge, obligation, or hardship
2 : to clear from accusation or blame — compare acquit, exculpate

History and Etymology for exonerate

Latin exonerare to relieve, free, discharge, from ex- out + onerare to burden, from oner-, onus load

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